Africa’s first NBA basketball league launched, will it be a slam dunk?

By Chris Bishop, head of Programming, CNBC Africa

Africa will be the home for the first NBA basketball league outside of the United States, but the question is will investors see it as a slam dunk?

The NBA announced its foray into the continent at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, Tuesday, with an international league among the champions of 12 African nations to start in March. The champions of six nations have qualified so far: Nigeria; Senegal; Egypt; Angola; Morocco and Tunisia. Twelve other African nations will play off for the last six places. The league appears to be funded completely by the NBA but in the long term will have to find money from heavyweight investors. It may be a hard sell in a continent where football is king of the sports dollar.

Ä straw poll among bankers and foreign investors at the launch at the Sandton Convention Centre showed how hard a nut to crack investment may be.

“No,” says one African banker shaking his head.

“Not now but maybe if the sport grows in the future,” says another African investors.

Basketball has had a chequered past in Africa when it comes to money. In Angola, there is a televised league. In Mozambique, along with a number of other Lusophone countries , it has a big following, but even less money. In Africa’s most industrialised economy, South Africa, fans follow the NBA but efforts to popularise the sport have been slow.

Albert Zeufack, the economist for the World Bank Africa, is a basketball fan who follows the LA Lakers. He believes tycoons pouring billions into African basketball may not be as farfetched as it seems.  

“I think it is promising as an investment. The talent Africans bring to the NBA its exploding, it shows the potential. It is an opportunity for investors to grow training centres here for new talent and bring hope for the continent,” he says.

Akinwumi Adesina, the head of the AfDB, said at the launch that he had followed basketball matches while he studied in the lab at university in the United States. He encouraged investors to plough billions into the new African league.

“I am very happy about this launch…Africa has the talent when it comes to basketball. All I ask is that they change the name from NBA to NBIA to National Basketball Investment Africa !”he joked.    {user:[email protected]}}

Related Content

Africa Investment Forum: Alfred Zeufack on what opportunities Africa’s free trade deal brings to the continent

Alfred Zeufack, Chief Economist, Africa at the World Bank was one of the more than 2200 delegates who attended the Africa Investment Forum, held in Sandton from the 11th to the 13th of November.

Africa Investment Forum: Bank of Industry’s Olukayode Pitan on agreements signed at the forum

The Managing Director and CEO of the Bank of Industry (BOI) in Nigeria, Olukayode Pitan, says the bank signed agreements with four major banks at the 2nd Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg. He discussed their plans with CNBC Africa’s Kopano Gumbi at the forum.

Africa Investment Forum: We need to translate interests into actual commitments, says AfDB’s Pierre Guislain

At the end of the three-day-long Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, the African Development Bank says 52 deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest compared to the $37.8 billion last year. CNBC Africa’s Fifi Peters spoke to Pierre Guislain, AfDB's Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialisation about the next steps.

Africa Investment Forum: DBSA, East African Community seek to boost infrastructure development with joint MoU

The East African Community (EAC) and the Development Bank of South Africa entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Africa Investment Forum held in Sandton from 11 to 13 November. CNBC Africa’s Kopano Gumbi spoke to Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General, East African Community and Mohan Vivekanandan, Group Executive, Origination and Coverage at the DBSA about what the MOU entails.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Market Wrap: Telcos & Nigeria’s capital markets

9mobile’s newly appointed Substantive CEO, Alan Sinfield, says the goal is to build on the company’s strong foundation. But what opportunities does Nigeria's capital market present for telcos should they want to tap the markets? Stockbroker and Capital Market Analyst, Rotimi Fakayejo joins CNBC Africa more....

RMB’s outlook for Nigeria’s sugar industry

Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria says Dangote Sugar’s recently released FY 2019 and first-quarter results show an improvement in sales. Joining CNBC Africa to breakdown these earnings is Feyisike Ilemore, Research Analyst at RMB Nigeria.

Kigali City mayor on building an inclusive city

The population of Rwanda’s capital Kigali is projected to grow to around 4 million in 2050 from less than 2 million currently. The mayor of the city Pudence Rubingisa explains how the city can grow without leaving anyone behind.

Unlocking peer to peer employment growth

Thousands and in some countries millions of people are going to be left jobless as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, but could this present an opportunity to unlock peer to peer employment growth? Josh Adler, Executive Director at Anzisha Prize joined CNBC Africa for more.

Partner Content

Sanlam Emerging Markets and its partners on the African continent invest over $12 million to fight COVID-19

As we go through this global pandemic together, it is the little things we miss. A high five, a handshake, a walk...

VIVO CEO is a dynamic leader for this innovative global brand

May 2020 -- Six months ago the vision for vivo in South Africa was just beginning to...

Trending Now

How COVID-19 is impacting Rwanda’s real estate sector

As the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue being felt world over, real estate companies are being impacted in different ways depending on region and asset class. CNBC Africa spoke to Paul Rwigamba, Director of project and property management at Century Real Estate, to understand the impact of the global pandemic on the real estate sector in Rwanda.

Nigeria further eases COVID-19 restrictions

Starting today, Nigeria has further relaxed restrictions on places of worship even as confirmed Covid-19 cases reach 10,578, Sam Chidoka, Managing Director and CEO of Kairos Capital joins CNBC Africa more.

9mobile’s new CEO shares plans for growth

The Board of Directors of 9mobile have announced the appointment of Alan Sinfield as the substantive Chief Executive Officer of the company. He joins CNBC Africa to discuss his plans for the company going forward.

Ghana taps technology for seamless customs procedures

As Ghana moves to adopt seamless procedures on the import and export of goods through an electronic customs management system. Yofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre joins CNBC Africa for more.
- Advertisement -